With that being said, The Descendants isn't anything ... it is definitely something. A major something. It is special. It is a beautiful film that examines the many nuances and situations of life in a place we often think of as idyllic and paradise-like that we often times forget has real people and real problems. The writing, acting, directing, etc are all top notch, just as you would expect. But beyond that, the movie makes you feel. Makes you cry. Makes you smile. It is not often a movie can do all that in one. The last that did it for me was 50/50. This is up there. Definitely up there.
The Plot: (copied from Rotten Tomatoes as it was too complex for me to accurately sum up)
From Alexander Payne, the creator of the Oscar-winning Sideways, set in Hawaii, The Descendants is a sometimes humorous, sometimes tragic journey for Matt King (George Clooney) an indifferent husband and father of two girls, who is forced to re-examine his past and embrace his future when his wife suffers a boating accident off of Waikiki. The event leads to a rapprochement with his young daughters while Matt wrestles with a decision to sell the family's land handed down from Hawaiian royalty and missionaries.
As I think more about this film and the previews I had seen, I don't think I as prepared for the context of death and loss. I thought it was more about his wife's affair. And it is. But be prepared, this film has death and loos and tragedy and coping. But it has it all so beautifully done and with Clooney at the helm to make it come across both effortlessly and full of real emotion and pain. And then there is Hawaii. I think that made this movie extra special, the setting and the back story. We always think of Hawaii as such a vacation place, the perfect honeymoon destination. That everyone must surf and work in the resort industry and that nothing bad can happen there. But it is a normal place, just like here, just like wherever you live. I like that they didn't show any of the characters surfing or going to a luau (sp?). I like how it wasn't always sunny ... in fact, it was overcast and rainy. I like how they made it seem real. How the place was a metaphor for how life often feels: sunny and happy and bright to everyone looking in from the outside, but for those living in it, it is normal and has its small moments of joy and many moments of pain.
I apologize dear reader (all 1 of you that probably reads this), I am blabbering because I am struggling with describing how I feel about this movie. It was lovely. That seems like a good word. Lovely. It stayed with me after I left the theater. It showed that paradise has its real life problems just like everywhere else. And it made me thankful in many ways.